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Thread: Learning: Arms!

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    Member Elfie's Avatar
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    Default Learning: Arms!

    I know there are several threads already devoted to arm movements. However, I wanted to add a few of my own experiences with this. My "study" habits if you will.

    I practice arm movements a lot. Anytime music is on, even if I'm just listening, I "dance" with my arms. It's become as second nature to me as singing the Klondike jingle whilst I think (which is something I've done since I was a child). I try to keep the arms soft and graceful... I don't want a strong tribal look to them. My daughter says she could watch me arm dance all day long haha!

    I first started doing the arm thing because I was having trouble doing arm movements while I danced. It can be difficult coordinating arms with torso and hip movements.

    I now have, because of this practice, sixteen different songs that have complete arm choreography to go with them. Many also have torso bits thrown in just because I felt fat and furry one day and decided to add torso movement LOL! This is easy to do while sitting at a desk or in the car.

    What is embarrassing is that I catch myself doing these arm moves in public. Not so good when you're sitting in the therapists' waiting room hehe! But it makes my dance look so much better because, even though I can only execute about 100 BD moves, the added arms give it a polished look.

    My favorite arm movement? The floreo (wrist circles). There's no end to what you can do with a wrist circle!

    I've noticed that many dancers (from clips I've watched on youtube) hold their arms in posture or framing. I thought that arm movements were fairly important in this dance; maybe it's just icing, but isn't that the best part of the cake?

    So, do you use arms to accentuate your dance? Do you have trouble coordinating? If you are just a beginner, have you focused on arm moves yet? If not, do you plan to work on it soon? I've only been dancing since May or June, but I think arm movements make a dancer look polished. Your thoughts on this?

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    Super Moderator Mosaic's Avatar
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    Arms are just as important as the rest of the body movements, nothing worse than limp, hanging, flaying arms.

    Yes framing draws the eye to the area the dancer wants the audience to be aware of especially the hips and arms/hands can express emotion in a song.

    Do I practice arms/hand movements yes I do, I've done a couple of arm/hand movement workshops, & have a couple of DVDs, all have helped through the years.
    ~Mosaic
    Dance is like glitter, it not only colours your life, it makes you sparkle, you find it everywhere and in everything and it's near impossible to get rid of. (unknown)


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    V.I.P. adiemus's Avatar
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    While arms are not really the focal point of Egyptian-style bellydance (beledi, sha'abi or raqs), I've been watching and watching and the good dancers just never stop moving their arms. They're soft, yes, but not ballet-arms, and they're relaxed, and they move through so many positions so naturally.
    Something I notice with video's of non-Egyptian dancers is that they over-emphasise arms, a bit like the emphasis on *this* movement and *that lock* and *this pop*, while the Egyptian dancers are more likely to almost 'allow' the movements to happen - but when I try to do this myself, there's s a whole lot of thinking going on! Especially if I don't want to end up in 'arm prison' in beledi second or something!

    So my current practice is to choose two or three hip movements and then move my arms through up to five different arm 'paths' (as Ranya Renee calls them), hopefully this way I'll build a well-practiced memory of how to 'allow' my arms to follow what I'm dancing.
    I'll let ya know if it works!!

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    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfie View Post
    My favorite arm movement? The floreo (wrist circles). There's no end to what you can do with a wrist circle!

    I've noticed that many dancers (from clips I've watched on youtube) hold their arms in posture or framing. I thought that arm movements were fairly important in this dance; maybe it's just icing, but isn't that the best part of the cake?
    Hate to rain on your parade - but, no, the floreo is not part of stanadrd belly dance. It is used in ATS though. It is part of flamenco.

    Belly dance is not primarily a dance of the arms - although the arms should add to the dance. You dance with your hips - and to a lesser extent with your torso - and keep time with your feet. Arms should look natural - which can be mush harder than doing Fish or something. Often the timing on the arms is slower than the hips - for instance the hips and feet might do four repeats while the arms transition from position A to position B.

    That said it is important that your arms don't look stiff or hang like dead fish. Exercises that help that are important. But it isn't hula. We don't tell stories with our arms and hands. Although we sometimes gesture within a song.

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    V.I.P. Greek Bonfire's Avatar
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    As Mosaic says, arms are very important. I once took classes with a teacher solely to learn how to use my arms because she was so exceptional. But I have also realized that while I learned how to use my arms, I find that it doesn't always include using my hands, mostly my fingers, well. So after learning arms, hands are also a separate issue to work on.

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    Member Elfie's Avatar
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    Oh, I know that the floreo movement is flamenco. The word floreo itself is Spanish origin. I see many belly dancers use it though - and yes mostly in ATS, but in others too, such as AmCab, or American Oriential if I'm being proper.

    And while belly dance is not primarily about the arms... like I said, it's icing. Without icing a cake doesn't look finished. Holding your (general your) arms only at posture (out to the side, soft yes, but still) makes a dancer look stiff. Note that this is only my opinion. I think that arms in motion, maybe not constant motion after all framing a hip to emphasise movement is taught in all belly dance styles, arms in motion keep that stiff and robotic thing from happening.

    Emphasising arms too much though, as adiemus said, makes it look like hip-hop fusion. Hip hop dancers have very stiff and jerky arm moves, just like the rest of their bodies. I try very hard to let the movements seem natural. There's a place for everything - pops and locks sure, but only if that's what the music tells you to do. It needn't be every. Single. Move. Or. You. Get. Dance. That. Feels. Like. This. Reads.

    Hands: yes! I have a hard time including my hands. Usually I hold them in one way - thumb and middle finger semi-widely apart like i'm holding a big, puffy marshmallow. Including my hands in the dance itself is tough because I'm already doing steps, hips, torso, arms and sometimes head moves. I forget my hands! I will work on that at some point. I'm still working on step moves right now. That triangle step thing (I have no idea what the name is, but there's two ways to do it - on half toes, the movement is step, step, step, with the hip on which your holding weight on the same foot is up. The other way is flat footed, and with each step, the hip on the same side bearing your weight goes down. I have no idea of the name.) gives me fits and I cannot for the life of me get it to look right. Same thing with a choo-choo shimmy. I can make it look right about 10% of the time. The rest... I kinda look like I'm having a conniption LOL. But that's a whole 'nuther thread right there...

    Man I talk (type) waaaay too much. I'll shut up now.

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    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    There's an article on my web site titled "Expressive Arms" that contains some of my advice on arms.

    See How to Belly Dance

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    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Arms are my current focus. I'd been improving everywhere else and allowing my arms to lag behind, to the point where they were really taking away from my dance.

    I neglected my arms so much partly because it's so hard to make them look polished, and partly because I was so self-conscious about my long, skinny arms, and so shy dancing in front of others, that didn't want to open myself up in that way. If you think about it, using your arms well really opens you up. You feel vulnerable, until you get used to it.

    I've made some progress since I decided to start working on them, but they still need a lot more work.
    Now, I do my isolations drills using more creative "frames" than just arms down or arms to the sides, I keep energy on them at all times no matter the position they are in or the drill I am doing, and I am paying more attention to how I transition them. I focus on my arms almost every time I am practicing. When I am performing, I still focus less on them than I should, but it's getting better.

    Although arms are not a key part of belly dance, they are indeed icing. The way a dancer uses her arms can make her style unique, and arms and hands are very expressive. The same move can have a thousand different looks depending on the expression you are using to go with it, and "expression" isn't just your face, it's also the body language, and body language includes posture, arms, hands...

    This dancer is my current obsession: YouTube - zviadiarziani's Channel
    Watch how she uses her arms. Very expressive, unique, and inspiring. Even when dancing this very technical drum solo, the arms never go "stale," constantly adding excitement.

  9. #9
    Member Elfie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yame View Post
    Arms are my current focus. I'd been improving everywhere else and allowing my arms to lag behind, to the point where they were really taking away from my dance.

    I neglected my arms so much partly because it's so hard to make them look polished, and partly because I was so self-conscious about my long, skinny arms, and so shy dancing in front of others, that didn't want to open myself up in that way. If you think about it, using your arms well really opens you up. You feel vulnerable, until you get used to it.

    I've made some progress since I decided to start working on them, but they still need a lot more work.
    Now, I do my isolations drills using more creative "frames" than just arms down or arms to the sides, I keep energy on them at all times no matter the position they are in or the drill I am doing, and I am paying more attention to how I transition them. I focus on my arms almost every time I am practicing. When I am performing, I still focus less on them than I should, but it's getting better.

    Although arms are not a key part of belly dance, they are indeed icing. The way a dancer uses her arms can make her style unique, and arms and hands are very expressive. The same move can have a thousand different looks depending on the expression you are using to go with it, and "expression" isn't just your face, it's also the body language, and body language includes posture, arms, hands...

    This dancer is my current obsession: YouTube - zviadiarziani's Channel
    Watch how she uses her arms. Very expressive, unique, and inspiring. Even when dancing this very technical drum solo, the arms never go "stale," constantly adding excitement.
    You know, I think that dancer is wonderful! And oddly enough, stylistically speaking, she reminds me of me (though I am so not that good or anywhere near that good). That is almost exactly how I dance, without the polish. And quite a bit darker, now that I think on it. [And now I finally understand what my husband means when he says I look dangerous hehe!] What style is that, anyway?

    See, questions like that make me feel like such a newbie, even though I've been dancing for months, I feel like I just don't know anything!

  10. #10
    Super Moderator gisela's Avatar
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    Warning, Personal opinions coming up
    I liked that dancer but as we are speaking about arms, I actually didn't like the way she used her arms in the dance. I thought they were too sharp and angled. I like softness while still expressive and with energy. Like Nour. I did see some Nour inspired arms in the other dancer but not nearly as well executed. But hey..who does it like Nour? not many.

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